Welcome to my Garden Corner!

We live in a beautiful apartment which we love, but there is no yard, nay even patch of grass we may call ours.  While this frees us from the responsibilities of grass-cutting and yard work, it also eliminates the option of planting a garden. No worries, however!  My kitchen windowsill has become quite the greenhouse!  We have aloe vera, lavender, basil, and cilantro there.  Our “indoor garden” also includes two pathos plants, a Christmas cactus, and two jade plants placed in various other strategic places throughout the house!

Do you love the scent of fresh cilantro like I do? Just bury your nose in those precious sprouts! Hmmm...

Going Paperless

I know that most of you are going to be saying, “You have got to be kidding me.”  “What a liberal!,” I may hear.  Please, don’t rush to some judgement too awful quickly.  I am about as anti-environmentalist as they come.  I don’t believe in the slightest bit that government should make us “green,” or be forced to be more earth friendly, at our expense.  That rhetoric is about as anti-freedom as you can get.

Nonetheless, I have been pondering the whole idea of less paper for the last few months, and am a firm believer.  I am not a believer because it makes me feel good to be earth friendly–that’s not even on my mind.  I am a believer because of two main things: cost and clutter.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am a despiser of paper clutter.  It seems that between Andrea and I, we collect a stack of about 30 pieces of paper a week–not even counting mail.  I would say that 80 percent of that is thrown away within a few days (actually, it ends up in the recycle bin–just because we have to).

Yes we have a printer.  How often do we print?  Very little.  I really do try to avoid it if I can.  Now, I do print Sunday School lessons and sermons pretty regularly.  Guess what, though?  I print double-sided.  I love that feature!  It saves on both of the c’s: cost and clutter.  If I have a two page lesson, then it is very easy to print on both sides.  Most printers have that feature, but I don’t think that many people use it.  In fact, newer printers have an automatic double-sided option built-in–so you don’t have to flip the pages after one side is printed.  I can’t stand it when I have a two page lesson on two pages!  I can instead, very easily, print on both sides, cut the clutter, and I guess it even saves a little too.

I also try to have all of my bills delivered paperless too.  Again, it cuts the clutter, and makes the whole payment process simpler: I get an email, pay the bill with and e-check, and get a receipt.  That is so much better and more efficient than having to wait for the bill in the mail, hoping it doesn’t get lost in the clutter, open it, throw away the envelope, write a check, get a stamp, write out another envelope, and mail it.  I still have to do that with one bill.  Side note: please go paperless, Penn Waste!

I see the future being even more efficient.  If I were a teacher, I think I would lean toward reports being emailed or given to me with a USB drive, rather than printing a stack of one-sided, double-spaced papers to turn in.  I feel for some of my former college teachers with 20+ students in a class, having to haul a stack of seven page reports home to grade.  I think it could be made easier and more cost-effective to use Microsoft Word’s or Adobe Acrobat’s extensive proofing and markup abilities, and send it back graded that way.  Maybe someday this could be more common.  One thing I do have to admit: I never once typed my notes in college.  I have a bunch of notebooks in my closet, which are harder to access, search, and re-read than having digital copies of them.  I regret not typing them a little; but then again, I never had a laptop in school.

I concur that I have not gotten into the Kindle/iPad/eReader fad.  I think that eBooks are a good idea, but I still like, and will continue to like real books much more than books on an electronic device.  Someday, I might try reading a good non-fiction book on one, but for now, I am a real book person.  If you don’t believe me, just look at our home library.


One other point: There is absolutely no reason to buy recycled printing paper; whether it be 50%, 75%, or 100%.  Go to the store and check the prices.  The recycled paper is more expensive, by several dollars a ream!  Now, why would one want to waste their money on less quality and higher price?  No…wait.  It will make you feel good.  May even that feel-goodiness will help clean up that oil spill in the gulf.  Not!!!  I say light it up, and let it burn!  I would rather pay to see a good fire show at the beach in Mobile, than pay an extra $4.00 for Lean Green Junk 100% Recycled paper.  Good day!

Monday Morning Randomness II

Today, I have a few thoughts that have been firing in my mind recently.  I guess you could say that they are about as random as you can get…

A New Fad

Since the weather has been warmer lately, Andrea and I have gotten off of our morning latte/cappuccino kick.  For a worthy substitution, I found a good recipe for an icy coffee drink.  Thank you, internet!

As a side note: Did you realize that the internet (specifically allrecipes.com) can make any dunce a master chef?  As long as you can read and follow directions, you can just about create anything gourmet.  I mean, since we have been married, this couple has made out of this world meals and treats…just from following directions from the internet.  Many of you have gotten a taste of these things from reading our blog in the last several months, but again, that’s just a taste.  Together, we have made: pretzels, Italian hearth bread, cinnamon rolls, deep dish and brick oven pizza, flour and corn tortillas, southern-style biscuits, and Italian beef.  Not to mention all of the other things Andrea has made for dinner.  I think that’s pretty neat.

Anyways, I found this recipe for an iced coffee drink, and adapted it a little to our liking:

2 shots of espresso (or about 2/3 cup strong coffee)

2 tablespoons of sugar

1 1/2 cups of milk

1 cup of ice

To mix, pour the espresso, sugar and milk into the blender, then blend on low for about thirty seconds.  After that, just drop the ice into the blender, and blend on “super high” (ice crush setting) for another thirty seconds.  It’s as simple as that!  And believe us, it is much better tasting than the syrupy, overpriced concoction they sell under the Starbuck’s name.

The Green Fields of France

I have been doing a little reading the last couple of weeks on the First World War (1914-1918).  As Americans, the war itself didn’t mean as much as World War II, mainly because we were not involved until the last year and a half.  However, to the rest of Europe, it meant everything.  To put everything in perspective, Europe officially refers to the men of the generation that fought in the war as “The Lost Generation.”  They say that because literally, a generation of young men from the UK, France, Belgium, and Germany were butchered on the Fields of France.  Even today, nearly 100 years later, the land that represents the old front lines of that war is permanently scarred.  Near places like Ypres, Belgium and Baupaume, France farmers still uncover land mines and unexploded artillery shells.  Today the land is very solemn and surreal; to the point where it is almost unimaginable the loss that was suffered by millions upon millions of men.

Ypres,Belgium, 1916

Ypres, Belgium, Today. "In Flanders Fields, where the poppies grow..."

My Trusty Razor

Around this time, four years ago, during my freshman year of college, I purchased my first electric razor.  I honestly cannot believe it has survived this long; and believe me, it has been through a lot!  The main thing it survived was the Fairhaven Guy’s Dorm–that is a miracle in and of itself.  It has also been to two foreign countries (Mexico twice, and Canada).  In Mexico, it almost saw it’s end.  The family that allowed me to stay with them when visiting Andrea two years ago had this little dog–Buddy.  I can’t say they didn’t warn me about him!  Well, I left my Norelco razor out one day and he decided to have a little heyday with it.  I returned to the house to find it in a million pieces.  They offered to get me a new one, but it wasn’t really there fault, so I thought I might try to salvage it together.  Well I did!  To this day, though, it has a small piece that ol’ Buddy tore off.

Yes, it has been through a few deep cleanings and reassemblies, but it still hasn’t cost me a dime since I bought it.  The best part of all is that it still works almost like it did when I got it!